heartbeat

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

heartbeat

Postby SamBodhi » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:52 am

Lately, when I sit for meditation, my heart starts to beat really hard. It is like it is pounding. Sometimes it seems like it moves my body. What is this? Has anybody else had this problem? Does anyone have any tips to solve it? I try focusing on my breath and taking the heartbeat as my focus. It seems to work a little bit.
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Re: heartbeat

Postby chownah » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:24 pm

It could be that you are obese or in poor health....or both.....
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Re: heartbeat

Postby santa100 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:03 pm

Make sure to also set some times aside for exercise beside meditation. Outdoor jogging, biking, or hiking are the best exercises to strengthen the heart..
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Re: heartbeat

Postby Viscid » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:15 pm

I think you notice the heartbeat when you're simply not used to being able to notice it. It comes and goes.. If you keep attention on the breath, the sensation of the heartbeat goes away.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: heartbeat

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:19 pm

Viscid wrote:I think you notice the heartbeat when you're simply not used to being able to notice it. It comes and goes.. If you keep attention on the breath, the sensation of the heartbeat goes away.


Yes, we tend to notice heart-beat more in the quiet of meditation.

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Re: heartbeat

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:16 pm

Whenever I notice my heart is beating hard, I use that as an opportunity to practice equanimity. Let the heart do its own thing, and it should settle after a while... however long that might take. :anjali:
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Re: heartbeat

Postby Zom » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:29 pm

I had such problem. But in my case it was due to the extreme excitement when I saw that my meditation deepened. Later I was able to overcome this obstacle when I got familiar with such deeper meditation experience. This meditation hindrance is listed in MN 128:

"As, Anuruddha, I was abiding diligent...I considered
thus: 'Elation arose in me, and because of elation my concentration
fell away; when my concentration fell away, the light and
the vision of forms disappeared.' Suppose a man seeking one
entrance to a hidden treasure came all at once upon five
entrances to a hidden treasure; then elation would arise in
him because of that. So too, elation arose in me...the light and
the vision of forms disappeared. [I considered thus:] 'I shall so
act that neither doubt nor inattention...nor fear nor elation will
arise in me again.'
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Re: heartbeat

Postby chownah » Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:19 am

It also could be from taking too much of a stimulant like caffee or eating too much before meditation....
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Re: heartbeat

Postby chownah » Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:22 am

Zom wrote:I had such problem. But in my case it was due to the extreme excitement when I saw that my meditation deepened. Later I was able to overcome this obstacle when I got familiar with such deeper meditation experience. This meditation hindrance is listed in MN 128:

"As, Anuruddha, I was abiding diligent...I considered
thus: 'Elation arose in me, and because of elation my concentration
fell away; when my concentration fell away, the light and
the vision of forms disappeared.' Suppose a man seeking one
entrance to a hidden treasure came all at once upon five
entrances to a hidden treasure; then elation would arise in
him because of that. So too, elation arose in me...the light and
the vision of forms disappeared. [I considered thus:] 'I shall so
act that neither doubt nor inattention...nor fear nor elation will
arise in me again.'

Zom,
When this happened was it obvious that you were excited and that was why your heart was pounding or was it difficult to detect your excitement except for the heart pounding being the major clue to your excitement?
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Re: heartbeat

Postby rowboat » Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:32 am

pung S wrote:Lately, when I sit for meditation, my heart starts to beat really hard. It is like it is pounding. Sometimes it seems like it moves my body. What is this? Has anybody else had this problem? Does anyone have any tips to solve it? I try focusing on my breath and taking the heartbeat as my focus. It seems to work a little bit.


I've had this experience also. I think some people here misunderstand you and that's why they are giving you advice about exercising more. :thinking: Maybe you could clarify that it isn't that your heart is beating more beats per minute but rather that you are experiencing the heart's beating more forcefully. It's not beating more forcefully. And yes, sometimes it feels like it moves the body, because the heart will always move the body a little when you are sitting upright and remaining very still. What has happened is you've just become more attuned to it, the same way you become more attuned to the sounds around you when your mind has started to settle down quite a bit. My advice is to return your attention to the breath and not be too worried about it.

(Of course if you are very out of shape exercise is more important, if you wish to live long enough to benefit from all of your hours of meditation.)
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
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Re: heartbeat

Postby SamBodhi » Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:35 am

Thank you all for the advice, tips, and so forth. Throughout the day today I would stop myself and ask, "What if I were sitting in meditation right now? Would my heart beat so powerfully?" This sort of seemed to draw me back to mindfulness of the body and awareness of my heartbeat. When I did sit for meditation yesterday evening, I did not have near as much trouble with a powerful heartbeat. It arose a few times, but passed away much sooner than previously. It would stay for several minutes in the past.

I think that I am going to start doing several (3-4) short sessions of mindful walking throughout the day. And I have a greater appreciation for mindfulness awareness in daily activity than I did before posting this.

chownah,
I am certainly not obese. If anything, I am underweight. I suppose that it might be an issue of poor health in a different area. I am due for a checkup with my Dr. so I will bring it up with him soon enough.
Also, I agree with your other comment about coffee and stimulants. I drink too much coffee as it is. I cannot remember exactly how long it had been since having a cup before I sat when I first noticed this, but I am sure that it is related.

I probably should be getting a bit more exercise. I used to ride my bike a lot, but I had to stop for a little bit because of a problem with one of my legs getting abnormally stronger than the other. This is a somewhat common problem among cyclists who ride great distances. I will probably get a few rides per week once the weather starts to get nicer around here (Midwestern USA).

Viscid,
I identify with what you said concerning to not noticing the heartbeat except when meditating. This was something I was able to notice today when I would stop and allow myself a short period of mindfulness of body. I also think that this made me better prepared for when it arises during meditation.

beeblebrox,
"however long that might take." Yes! Thanks for that.

Zom,
I would agree that this has something to do with excitement. I do find that I am sort of racing down to the cushion to gets some quality time. Also, it has been a long time since I have sat for lengthy periods of meditation. So, I am pretty sure that there is also some emotional animation occurring.

rowboat,
I think I may not have been clear when I wrote my original post. It does not seem like my heart is beating more beats per minute. Rather, it does feel like it is beating more forcefully. Thanks for the post.

with metta.
"An inward-staying
unentangled knowing,
All outward-going knowing
cast aside."
--Upasika Kee Nanayon
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